Rand Paul meets with Gorbachev

Rand Paul meets with Gorbachev
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulBooker, Harris have missed most Senate votes Trump vetoes measure ending US support for Saudi-led war in Yemen Bottom line MORE (R-Ky.) met on Tuesday with former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev as part of his weeklong trip to Russia.

Paul praised Gorbachev after the meeting, saying he understood the "critical necessity of engagement" between the United States and Russia.

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“President Gorbachev was instrumental in bringing down the Iron Curtain and restoring ties with the West. ... Our conversation further encouraged me that open dialogue between our two nations does not have to be a thing of the past," Paul said in a statement.

He added that while he discussed "various items" with Gorbachev, who was the final leader of the Soviet Union, the "importance of nuclear disarmament was greatly discussed."

Paul also met with Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Foreign Relations, and invited Russian lawmakers to Washington, D.C.

His trip to Moscow comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are becoming increasingly concerned that the Kremlin will try to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillBig Dem names show little interest in Senate Gillibrand, Grassley reintroduce campus sexual assault bill Endorsements? Biden can't count on a flood from the Senate MORE (Mo.), one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, said late last month that Russian intelligence agents had targeted her staff with an attempted breach ahead of the November midterms.

Senators are mulling legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia, though some Republicans are skeptical they would be enough to prevent election meddling.

Paul, who voted against sanctions legislation last year, has emerged as one of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE's chief allies in the Senate on Russia.

He blocked a resolution from Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Five former Obama ambassadors back Buttigieg Both sides were wrong about Mueller report, and none of it will likely matter for 2020 MORE (I-Vt.) that would have supported the intelligence community's findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election and required Trump to sit down with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE.

"We should stand firm and say, 'Stay the hell out of our elections,' but we should not stick our head in the ground and say we're not going to talk to them," Paul said from the Senate floor.